Is this passport a total scam?

April 26, 2013
Koh Samui, Thailand

The flight from Penang to Koh Samui is quick. And it’s incredibly cheap.

Unlike their Western counterparts, Asian discount air carriers actually walk the walk. You can zip around the region for flights often costing just $50 to 100.

And it’s well worth it, there is much to see in Asia… from the obvious opportunities in Cambodia to the clear lifestyle advantages in Malaysia to here in Samui, which has some really spectacular beaches and a great international crowd.

Like the flights, it’s cheap here. A spectacular ocean-front villa here with a private swimming pool is setting me back about $150… which barely registers a second-rate motel anymore in the West.

And for budget travelers, backpacker beach hostels go for just a few dollars a night.

I’m emphasizing pricing here because I’m trying to make a point about travel– it need not be expensive.

Many major airline alliances like One World and the Star Alliance, for example, offer special ’round the world’ fares, taking you across five or six continents over the span of several months, for just a couple of thousand dollars if you don’t mind coach.

This is quite valuable… especially considering that travel is a far better teacher than a conventional education. The experiences and knowledge one gains on the ground around the world cannot be taught in any classroom.

This is one of the things that we always encourage at our summer entrepreneurship camps: For young people, the world is devoid of the opportunities of the past. And, to get ahead, they’ve got to think differently– build real skills, accumulate unique experiences, and seek opportunities in overlooked places.

(You can find out more about our free summer entrepreneurship camp, and how to apply, by visiting

Before signing off for the week and getting some much needed R&R, I wanted to address a question we received several times this week.

One of our readers, Robin T, summed it up by asking– “Simon, I see you’re in Cambodia; I’ve read on the Internet that there is an economic citizenship program available there. Is this real, or a scam?”

Sure. It’s simple. There is no ‘economic citizenship’ program in Cambodia.

In certain countries like St. Kitts or Dominica, you can make an investment in the country and potentially receive a passport in return.

There’s also a new program in Europe (just outside of the EU) that few people know about. Only Sovereign Man has presented this option publicly, and we even flew out the country’s retired Minister of Foreign Investment to address attendees at our workshop in Chile a few weeks ago.

So these programs do exist. But not in Cambodia.

The Cambodian government grants certain investment incentives through its development council; upon making a $300,000+ investment, foreigners potentially qualify for a reduction in the residency period that’s required to become a naturalized citizen.

But as an official at the development council told me, there are still a multitude of requirements to obtain citizenship… like, oh, language proficiency. Anyone going to learn Cambodian anytime soon?

Yet a bunch of clowns on the Internet present Cambodia as if you just pay some money and they hand you a passport. And this is just not true.

Look, international diversification IS a great solution… a time-tested way to reduce your exposure to a bankrupt, corrupt government. But it has to be done the right way.

And there are more productive options for your hard earned savings than trying to buy some silly travel document issued by a corrupt bureaucrat in a third world country.

At a minimum, it puts you at significant risk. Even if the deal works out and you end up with a passport, imagine the scrutiny you’ll get if you ever try to use it… especially if you look like a Westerner.

Instead, with some time and effort, it’s possible to become Belgian, Brazilian, Singaporean, etc. And to do so legitimately, in the light of day.

There’s no shortcut to doing things the right way. But unfortunately, there’s also no shortage of digital snake oil salesmen who rake in huge fees by exploiting people’s fear and ignorance.

My best advice with respect to any such program you may be curious about– always ask to see the law, and to speak directly with the officials in charge of the ‘program’.

Have a great weekend.

About the author

James Hickman (aka Simon Black) is an international investor, entrepreneur, and founder of Sovereign Man. His free daily e-letter Notes from the Field is about using the experiences from his life and travels to help you achieve more freedom, make more money, keep more of it, and protect it all from bankrupt governments.

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